Sunday, December 30, 2007

Choosing An Interior Decorator

Art work by Lauren Byrne
Some people feel intimidated at the thought of hiring an interior decorator. It used to be only the wealthy employed decorators. With more and more people spending time at home after a long day of work, they want their house to be a haven to come home to. Unfortunately, lengthy commutes and long work hours make it virtually impossible for homeowners, even if they are handy, to start and complete a job within a reasonable amount of time. Maybe you’re just not sure how to pull it all together.

That's when you want to consider the services of an interior decorator. An interior decorator will do the research and legwork for you. You do have to do a little homework, though. Before hiring an interior decorator, decide what you’re expecting from the decorator regarding your project and what do you want the decorator to do for you.


Keep in mind the following for when you meet with a decorator for your consultation:

1. Your budget. This is very important because it will dictate what resources are available to the decorator to meet your budget requirements. Resources are adjusted; the interior decorator's fee is not.

2. Your style. If you don't know your style, use decorating books, magazines and home catalogs that give an indication of the things you like. It may be candlesticks from one picture, a rug from another picture, the clock in another, and so on. This will give the decorator a visual of what you are looking for in your project.

3. Color. When you hire an interior decorator you know that you will be getting color. The question becomes, what color. Be prepared to know what colors you like and dislike; this goes for the other members of your family.

4. Know what pieces and accessories you are keeping, and which you are ready to part with. If you have an heirloom of Aunt Martha's that must work with the decor, you should let the interior decorator know that.

5. The Room. Be prepared to let the decorator know what the project room is going to be used for, in the event it is not apparently obvious, like a kitchen. Who will be using this room? What will be the function of the room?

6. Pets. If you have pets and they are not in evidence at the time of your consultation, let the decorator know that you have pets. This will help in determining the type of fabrics used, especially if your pets normally have free range of your home.

7. Pictures. As previously stated, pictures are always good to have on hand to reflect a style you like, or general furniture, fabric or color preferences.

8. DIY. If you want to try and cut down on the expense of some of the decorating, you can indicate to the interior decorator this preference. For example, if you like to paint, and do it well, there should be no reason you can't paint a project room yourself. You'll also save yourself several hundred dollars.


The interior decorator will bring to your project:

1. The ability to listen. When the decorator comes to your home for the consultation, they should listen attentively and do a walk through of the project room.

2. The ability to make the right product selections for your project.

3. Creative ideas and solutions for your project.

4. Helping to create your color and design scheme by showing you fabric and paint samples, and suggesting surface solutions such as flooring.

5. The attitude that this is your home and should reflect the style and personalities of the family living there, not the decorator's.

6. A willingness to come out to your home to meet with you.

7. Suggestions as to how to improve a home's function by applying design principles of color, texture, balance, etc.


If after your consultation with an interior decorator, you feel you have made a connection with this person, and trust them enough to make the right choices, you will enter into a contract signed by both you and the decorator. This not only protects both the homeowner and the decorator, but should set forth the project details.


Fees vary depending on the interior decorator; whether it's a large or small firm; and whether it's a residential or high-end residential decorator.

Some of the basics are:

* Hourly - this can vary from $35.00 to $250.00 per hour. Sometimes interior decorators will provide a free one-hour consultation, but after the first hour charges apply. That is why it is important for you to do your homework. Use your time with the decorator wisely.

* Fixed - also known as Flat Fee, and may include a cap on the hours that are included within that fee.

* Percentage - also referred to as Cost Plus. This is calculated between 15-30% above cost, and does not include delivery or sales tax.

* Retail - is exactly what it says. It is the same retail price you would pay, as some stores do not discount to the trade.

* A Combination of any of the above.

Working with an interior decorator can be a pleasant, rewarding and satisfying experience. If you do your homework beforehand, and use the consultation time wisely, this could be a headache free experience. You may enjoy it so much that who knows, maybe you will do something with that guest room before your mother comes to visit.

Kathy Passarette is a Certified Interior Decorator and Affiliate member of the Interior Design Society. She is the owner of Creative Home Expressions located on Long Island, New York. You can contact Kathy through her website at
copyright 2008 Creative Home Expressions

New Years Resolutions ~ For Your Home

January – Remove your holiday decorations by the second week in January. Nobody wants to see icicle lights or reindeer on your lawn in February, whether they be your neighbors or prospective buyers.

February – Apply a fresh coat of paint to any rooms that need it. This is one of the least expensive ways to add a change to the inside of your home.

March – While Spring cleaning, move some things around from collectibles to furniture to give you a fresh perspective and appreciation of your belongings.

April – Wash all your windows. Seems so simple but a lot of people don't do it. This will allow the maximum light into your home after a winter cooped up inside. On warmer days, open some windows to freshen up the house.

May – Clean up your deck or patio, as well as any outdoor furniture. Start planting flowers and other plants after your first frost. You will, after all, be doing a lot of your living outdoors in the coming months.

June – Bring your Fall/Winter window treatments and slipcovers to the dry cleaners for cleaning and pressing, so they will be ready for fall. Use sheers at your windows for the summer months.

July – Bring candles outdoors to extend your enjoyment of your outdoor room into the night. Whether floating candles for the pool or pond, pillar or votive for the table, hanging from tree branches or tall candle stands for those dark corners, candles will make for a very relaxed atmosphere as you entertain, or even just for enjoying your home on your own.

August – It's too hot to go outside? Crank the A/C up and organize your bookcases. Keep only those that you think you will read again or that have some reference value. Donate those you will get rid of to your library or local hospital. Take the paper covers off and intersperse the books with pictures and collectibles. Stop, stand back and look every so often to make sure the arrangement is pleasing to the eye.

September –Change out your lampshades. Rather than purchasing a new lamp to replace a tired one, a lampshade can give a lamp new life. While you're at it, remove the light bulbs and clean them with a damp cloth. Dust cuts down on light output.

October – Bring those throws back out and toss them over your sofa or chair. Fluff and freshen your pillows and throws by putting them in the dryer on a "fluff" setting (no heat) with a scented dryer sheet.

November –Easy and inexpensive slipcovers can be found at SureFit, which constantly adds to its selection. Try chenille, corduroy or tapestry-like fabrics.

December – Early in the month go through your holiday decorations, deciding what you will use, what can be discarded and what you need to get.
copyright 2008 Creative Home Expressions
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